In The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, Esperanza is an extremely tragic character. Her life, as it is documented here, was awfully disappointing until the concluding vignettes. Her childhood was spent trying to soar free, but she was constantly grounded by many people and even by society at large. Her major hindrances that delayed her achievement of her goals of independence and freedom were the feminine ideals of the time and setting. Women were expected to lack intellect, but at the same time to be a cook, a housekeeper and to keep themselves pretty. In addition to this they were also expected to be completely submissive to the men of the society. Unfortunately, these ideas of how women ought to act did severely impinge on Esperanza's life and views. On the other hand, she was fortunate to escape these confines on her self-expression.
Foremost, the idea that women were meant to be in the kitchen to cook and clean was established when Alicia thought she saw mice and her father said she didn't. (31) Alicia was used as a metaphor a hindrance in Esperanza's life (as were almost every other female in the book). Alicia "is afraid of nothing but four-legged furs. And fathers."(32) This final line of the vignette was a result of her father's oppression and dismissal of her claim to have seen mice. When she said she saw mice he replied by insisting that she didn't and telling her where "her place" was. He let her know that she needed her sleep so she could wake early and make breakfast. This "place" of hers that he refers to represents the restriction that Esperanza faces in her everyday life. It is not exactly the same but nonetheless tells her tale.
The next idea of how women should be is expressed as a sexual requirement. The women should look pretty and dress pretty. The idea that women should be used for sex is also voiced in "The Earl of Tennessee". Every child describes Earl's "wife" differently.